4 Sleep Training Methods To Learn About
Little Yawn Collective - Mar 14, 2022
Although it's often touted as the most magical thing in the world, being a parent is definitely not for the faint of heart.
Plagued by sleep deprivation and around-the-clock newborn care, early parenthood is notorious for leaving new moms and dads bleary-eyed, exhausted, and in desperate need of a little beauty sleep. From needing a diaper change or a bottle to simply missing your company, babies fuss in the middle of the night for several reasons.
But don't worry, parents — this phase doesn't last forever as babies can usually snooze soundly through the night by the time they reach six months of age. The key, however, is discovering a sleep training method that works well for your family and practicing it regularly.
What Sleep Training Methods Can I Try?
First things first, what exactly is sleep training?
Sleep training, otherwise known as sleep coaching, is an umbrella term for a number of various methods that aim to help babies stabilize their naturally chaotic sleep patterns — and, in turn, help exhausted parents get more shut-eye. In other words, it's the process of teaching a little one how to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.
When it boils down to picking one of the sleep training methods to try, parents have quite a few options to choose from, most of which were developed by pediatricians or experts in "all things baby."
That being said, just like there's no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting, there's no one way to sleep train.
So with that in mind, let the five sleep training methods below serve as a guideline to help you find what works best for you and your little buddy. You may discover that not only one but a mix of the following techniques bring you the most success.
Just whatever you do, be consistent!
Here are the most popular sleep training methods that are commonly used today to teach babies how to become independent snoozers:
Method #1: The Check and Console Method
Also called Ferberizing or controlled comforting, the check-and-console method entails allowing your tiny tot to cry while checking in on them at progressively longer intervals.
The goal here is to reassure your little one every so often to:
- Make sure they are okay
- Reassure yourself that they are okay
- Reassure them that you hear their cries and are there for them
When you go to check on your small bundle, you are not supposed to pick them up, but instead, reassure them verbally or with a few loving bum pats for no more than two to three minutes.
This popular method is meant to allow your sweet pea to drift off to dreamland on their own. You see, the idea is that they fall asleep in the same environment in which they will awaken periodically throughout the night.
The essential knowledge of how to fall asleep unassisted will pave the way for your tiny snoozer to go back to sleep without the help of a parent when they stir before morning.
Method #2: The Cry It Out Method
The cry-it-out method — aka extinction, full extinction, or CIO for short — is a technique where parents take their little one through a bedtime routine before plopping a sweet kiss on their forehead, turning out the light, and leaving the room.
If the baby cries, the parent does not respond—eventually, the teary-eyed tot tuckers themselves out from crying or self-soothes back to sleep.
Cry-it-out is perhaps the most difficult for parents of all the methods, but it often works the quickest. This is why it's often met with controversy, with advocates saying it's perfectly fine to ignore an infant's cries, whereas critics feel it's too harsh.
With that being said, if you don't want to let your baby cry, that is 100 percent A-OK — just choose the method that’s right for you.
Method #3: The Chair Method
Also known as the sleep lady shuffle, camping out, or gradual withdrawal, the chair method is an effective sleep training technique popularized by baby expert Kim West.
Simply sit in a comfortable chair next to your little one's crib until they fall asleep without picking them up. Once they are catching zzzs, leave the room. If they begin to fuss or cry, come back in and sit in the chair until they drift off to sleep again.
Every two to three nights, move your chair farther away from the crib, verbally soothing or shushing your baby when they fuss or cry until you're no longer in the room.
This method can be especially helpful for toddlers who may suffer from separation and can understand that mom and dad are just around the corner, but it also works for younger tots, too.
It does not, however, work well for little ones who find their parent's presence to be more stimulating than comforting. If this is the case for you, consider a different training method.
Method #4: The Pick-Up and Put Down Method
Another gentle and effective approach to sleep training is the pick-up-put-down method. This popular no-tears technique aims to help your little buddy learn to fall asleep while still ensuring that they know you're there with them.
Start by going through your baby's normal bedtime routine. Maybe give your little one a warm sleep-inducing bubble bath using our soothing shampoo and body wash, followed by a relaxing massage with our nourishing body lotion.
Read a few snuggly stories, sing a sweet lullaby, and turn on the white noise machine.
As soon as your small bundle is drowsy, put them down in their crib to sleep before leaving the room. When and if they cry, wait a couple of minutes to see if they settle down on their own. If not, go into the room to pick up and soothe your fussy tot.
When calm, place your child back in their crib and leave the room. Repeat the "pick-up put-down" process until your little one is sound asleep.
When Should I Start Sleep Training?
While no specific age signals when to start sleep training, most experts recommend hopping on the bandwagon when your baby is about four months old.
At this age, babies are typically old enough to physically make it for six to eight hours overnight without needing to eat.
Additionally, this is when a baby's sleep cycle begins to mature, and their circadian rhythm (the hormonal cycle that regulates our sleep-wake cycles) starts to take effect.
Of course, all babies are different, whereas some can start sleep training sooner rather than later, while others do better holding off until they are a bit older. If you're not totally sure if your small bundle is old enough, check with your pediatrician to get the green light first.
How Can I Help My Baby Sleep Through the Night?
Whatever approach you choose, even if you decide to use a combination of sleep-training methods or none at all, there are many things you can do to help your little one snooze soundly through the night.
For instance, if you don't already have a good bedtime routine — establish one.
Babies learn through actions before they begin comprehending the meaning of words. Having a consistent and predictable bedtime routine helps tiny tots learn through actions that it's time to hit the hay and summon the sandman.
Now, despite what you might think, your baby's bedtime routine doesn't have to be super elaborate. In fact, the best bedtime routines are often short, sweet, and simple, so you can consistently repeat it anytime, anywhere.
Here's an example of a good bedtime routine:
- Start with a warm bubble bath
- Get snuggly with a bedtime story
- Give your tiny tot a gentle infant massage using our Nourishing Body Lotion
- Sing a sweet lullaby
- Turn on some rumbly white noise
- Kiss your tot on the forehead and leave the room
In addition to a bedtime routine, you can also help your baby sleep through the night by setting the stage for sweet dreams. Create a snoozy sleeping environment by closing the curtains or drawing the blinds and turning off the lights to keep the nursery dark.
Shoot for a room temp of about 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and dress your toddler in a single layer to prevent them from overheating.
Is your baby battling you at bedtime due to a fussy tummy?
Help them slumber through the night by calming their digestive upset with our Calming Probiotic & Organic Chamomile Sleep Drops. In this pediatrician-approved formula, you'll find Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG probiotics and chamomile working together in perfect harmony to help soothe unhappy bellies — perfect to use right before bedtime!
How Long Should I Let My Baby Cry?
Babies, toddlers, and children (and adults!) cry for many different reasons — but not all of those reasons mean something is drastically wrong. Your tiny tot may cry because they're tired, overstimulated, bored, or simply because they miss you and want attention.
Although it may drive you a little crazy from time to time, babies summon the waterworks because it's the only way they can communicate, and it's important to know what your small bundle is trying to tell you — especially when their tears are about sleep.
Is your sweet baby crying in the middle of the night because they are hungry? In need of a diaper change? Not feeling well?
As you spend more time with your newest family member, you'll soon be able to decipher what your baby's different cries mean, which can then help you to differentiate when they are fussing "just because" and can be left alone to self-soothe versus when they are crying due to something actually being wrong and require help.
With that in mind, as long as your baby isn't crying due to being sick, hungry, wet, or uncomfortable, how long you leave them to fuss and cry is totally up to you.
If you decide to try the cry-it-out method where you ignore your little one's cries throughout the night, a baby monitor can give you peace of mind, allowing you to keep a watchful eye on your tiny tot at all times without them knowing.
How Long Does Sleep Training Take?
Keep in mind that sleep training is different for everyone. You'll always hear about a super snoozer who was able to catch Zzzs like a champ since day one — but don't expect overnight miracles.
With patience, hard work, and dedication, experts say most strategies will take a week or two to implement, and sticking it out is key to making them work.
The Bottom Line
Remember, all babies are different. Some will respond better to various sleep training methods, whereas others require a little more finesse. Don't be afraid to jump ship if a certain technique isn't working for you and your small bundle.
Take a deep breath and keep trying — with patience, consistency, and a bit of luck, you can teach your little one to become a perfect snoozer in no time. That being said, if you stick to a technique regularly and find it's not working after a few weeks, consider reaching out to your pediatrician for tips and advice.
At Little Yawn Collective, we're here to empower parents and build confidence to establish bedtime routines that work. Whether you're just dipping your toes in the sleep training waters or simply on the hunt for melatonin-free sleep solutions, you can always count on us to have your back at bedtime.
Check us out today and bring on the sleepies tomorrow — trust us, you'll be glad you did!
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